Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD): Why It’s Important
Guardion Health Sciences
Macular pigment is a protective layer inside the center of the eye that is vitally important to macular and ocular health. You can think of macular pigment like a pair of sunglasses — only the sunglasses are inside the eye instead of worn outside. The macular pigment absorbs dangerous wavelengths of blue light and ultraviolet light from the sun so the light cannot pass through and affect the sensitive cells of the retina and macula.
Macular pigment also improves visual performance in a few crucial ways:
- Enables visual acuity, or the ability to see clearly, particularly in low-light situations or situations that require fine detail vision
- Improves contrast sensitivity, or the ability to distinguish objects from their background
- Reduces light sensitivity, or the reaction to being exposed to bright light
- Enables glare recovery, or the recovery from temporary blindness caused by stadium lights, car headlights or other high-intensity lighting
The macular pigment is measured by its density, which is known as macular pigment optical density (MPOD). When MPOD is low, it raises the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a leading cause of vision loss. New research also now shows that an unhealthy MPOD is a risk factor for vision loss in other eye diseases as well, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
AMD affects the macula, or the portion of the retina responsible for clear central and detail vision. The macula controls our ability to recognize faces or colors, see clearly enough to drive or read and see nearby objects (like a smartphone or a needlepoint) in clear detail.
With AMD, the tissue of the macula thins and breaks down, causing symptoms like blurry or wavy vision at first. If AMD progresses without treatment intervention, partial or complete loss of central vision can occur.
AMD affects more Americans than cataracts and glaucoma combined. Currently there is no cure for the disease. Consequently, finding a way to reduce the risk of AMD is critical.
One of the biggest risk factors for AMD is age. Other risk factors include smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet and a family history of the disease.
As mentioned, low macular pigment is a risk factor for AMD. Luckily, it is a modifiable one.
Replenish the Macular Pigment to Reduce the Risk of AMD
The macular pigment is made up of three carotenoids: lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Research suggests that getting more of these antioxidants can increase the macular pigment and reduce the risk of age-related degeneration.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in foods like leafy green vegetables, albeit in small doses. For most people, their daily diet does not include enough of these antioxidants to make a difference in their macular pigment. Meso-zeaxanthin is not found in nature and has to be produced in the eye from lutein and zeaxanthin. With age, the production process slows down and the need for meso-zeaxanthin supplementation becomes essential.
Consuming nutritional supplements or medical foods with sufficient amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin can restore and replenish the macular pigment over time, thus reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Lumega-Z is the first and only FDA-approved medical food to contain enough lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin to provide the optimal therapeutic benefit. To learn more about Lumega-Z, please contact Guardion Health Sciences today.